If you are considering biogas energy production for your farm, let first define what anaerobic digestion is.
What is Anaerobic Digestion?
Producing biogas undergoes a series of biological processes where plant and animal materials (biomass) are broken down by microorganisms without oxygen. This is called “anaerobic digestion.” The end product of this was combusted to generate electricity and heat or processed into renewable natural gas and transportation fuels.
Various range of anaerobic digestion technologies convert livestock manure, municipal wastewater solids, food waste, high strength industrial wastewater and residuals, and other organic waste into biogas energy. Accordingly, before installing a biogas plant, if you run a business in agriculture or farm-related industry, you should ask yourself these things:
Q#1. Do I want to reduce manure odor coming from my farm?
Odors coming from poultry farms or barns, municipal wastes, and other livestock businesses often emit a terrible smell. This issue is prevalent these days due to improper waste management by some farms. However, there’s a possible way to reduce effluent spreading foul odors in fields.
There are also some cases where a barn is near a residential home. So, if there’s a new homeowner there, the smell of manure spread might be abhorrent for them. Accordingly, farm owners should plan another method in disposing of wastes.
Q#2. What type of digester do I need?
If you already decided to manage the farm’s waste by turning it into something that is more useful, biogas energy production is available! If you didn’t know, there are different anaerobic digester systems commercially available. Anaerobic digestion systems for manure operate to reduce methane and carbon emissions, foul odors, pathogens, and weed seeds. Accordingly, they fall into four general categories:
- Covered anaerobic lagoon digester
- Plug flow digester
- Complete mix digester
- Dry Digester
Keep in mind that the location plays a vital role when choosing what type of anaerobic digesters to use. Mostly in warmer areas of the country, a covered lagoon is an option. On the other side, plug flow digester and complete mix digester or dry digester can be used.
Q#3. Do I want to generate electricity to power the farm?
Probably, you already know what’s the answer to this. And that’s a Yes! Commonly, farmers need enough electricity. However, the electricity supply is the most prevalent concern of many. However, depending on your farm operation’s type and size, biogas production is an effective method. Studies show that at least 300 cows would be needed to produce enough biogas to generate electricity to run the farm.
As the technology used in producing biogas is relatively cheap, it can also be easily deployed in domestic settings. And according to Professor Jerry Murphy, director of the SFI MaREI Centre at the UCC Environmental Research Institute, biogas is a green and sustainable energy vector that is significant in shifting to a sustainable decarbonized city.